My Life A Bit South of Normal

Monday, July 15, 2013

Heat and Cold, and Miracles

The mantles from several old fireplaces were among some the parts of the razed house Mama had purchased to move to High Acres. And, some of these mantles were more ornate than others. Mama had a hard time deciding which one she wanted in the great room, but finally made her choice. As the structure of the house was being completed, she was very specific with Stanbury, as to where in the room she wanted the fireplace and which mantle to use.

On one trip up, Mama found that the mantle had been installed just where she wanted it. However, there was just a blank wall behind it. Upon questioning Dad, she learned that the plans for a chimney had been delayed. His story was that he wanted to find a brick mason who was experienced in building chimneys in the high wind conditions surrounding the house. So there was Mama's mantle in all its glory installed in the great room with no fireplace. There were plans for another fireplace up stairs but Mama wisely decided to wait until the chimney was built before she installed that mantle. So in the great room upstairs there was a stack of several spare mantles.

Eventually the mantles were quietly moved to the barn and some thirty years later when Mama sold the farm, there still was no chimney on that side of the house. However on the other side of the house, there was a small chimney built for the franklin stove that was in the small den. That side of the house did not have the wind issues and that stove was one of the first things installed. We often suggested she could use one of her fancy mantles over the squatty wood stove in the small den. She failed to share our humor.

In the summer, since there were few insects on the mountain, we kept most of the large windows open during the daytime. The constant breeze kept the house nice and comfortable. I can never remember being warm during a summer up there.

Come to think of it, I can never remember being warm in that house - ever. In the winter, even with every door and window closed tightly, the house was drafty. Although it was newly built, it took on the persona of the old things in it. It never held heat. The small den was the only comfortable room because of the Franklin stove which we kept going constantly while we were up there. It was not unusual for someone to "fall asleep" on the sofa and end up there all night. Unfortunately, there was only one sofa and it was just a matter of who could stay up longer to claim it.

The rest of the house was heated with a myriad of strategically placed electric heaters. I often went to bed at night weighing the dangers of freezing to death because the heater was safely off or dying in a ball of fire due to a faulty heater. More often than not, I took my chances with the heater.

Mama's cooking fiascoes were so prevalent that there was a blackened scorch mark behind the stove. And, then there was that period of time, thanks to a crate of sconces Stanbury brought her, Mama decided that candle light would add to the ambiance of the house. (We quickly put the ca-bosh on that, not wanting to push our luck.)  All of these possible calamity's coupled with the copious quantities of consumed adult beverages, it was a miracle that the house never burned to the ground.

As the saying goes says "God watches out for fools and children." Perhaps we can add High Acres to that list.

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